Lang Tong

Sam Loh’s erotic thriller might have nudity and violence, but is neither erotic nor thrilling.

“Hey I’ve actually put in a lot of effort with her. I’ve even slept with her sister”

Lang Tong’s best moment is its opening scene. If you can even call it that. It’s just a single shot of the main character of the movie, womaniser Zack (William Lawandi), screaming in terror. It’s basically just a single second of footage from later on but is excellent, and draws you in before the opening credits even start. It’s a shame the rest of the movie doesn’t follow in its footsteps.

The movie wants to be like others in its ilk such as Audition or Dumplings, and at first feels promising. Zack spends his time hooking up with and eventually defrauding young impressionable women. After ditching the poor Stephanie (Esther Goh), Zack moves on to Li Ling (Vivienne Tseng) who lives with her younger sister Li Er (Angeline Yap), and ends up sleeping with both of them while trying to get Ling to shell out a few thousand for an imaginary housing project. However, things take a turn when Er asks Zack to kill Ling.

Now this is a decent set-up. It’s the sort of scenario that allows for a lot of backstabbing and plenty of sleazy, sexy shenanigans. The problem is that by the time Li Er brings up her murder plot, the film’s already on the home stretch, with maybe twenty-five minutes remaining. Lang Tong takes way too long to get into the main story, choosing to spend almost a third of its runtime with Zack’s relationship with someone who doesn’t matter in the absolute slightest. Sure, establishing him as a womanising piece of shit is important, but this can be done in half that time.

It’s the sort of thing that should have been established within the first half an hour, but waiting until the fifty-five minute mark to get started seems a bit rich for a movie that doesn’t even clock in at 90 minutes. Lang Tong strikes me as a film from a first-time director – and it was. It’s got lots of ideas, both in terms of story and in visual, but director Sam Loh seems to lack the experience to put them together skilfully. I’d love to see what he’s done since as sometimes the shot composition is nice – such as the opening credits – but it doesn’t do anything to make up for the bad sound quality, abysmal lighting and general lack of technical know-how.

The film seems to have only two locations in mind: inside of a dimly-lit apartment, and inside a seedy bar where little to no music is playing. There’s more music during the scenes of Zack cooking than there is anywhere else. Watching Lang Tong is a bit like watching the first cut of a much better film. The editing is clumsy and there’s close to no chemistry between any of the actors and all of this makes Lang Tong a hilariously awkward movie from start to finish. By the time it finally gets to the Audition-like violence you’ve been waiting for, it’s lost you completely.

Verdict: Lang Tong has the ingredients for good pork rib soup, but lacks all the flavour.

Overall entertainment: 4.5/10
Violence: 5/10
Sex: 8/10
Mike: Honestly who gives a shit about Mike
Favourite IMDb keyword: penis collection
Wait, how is giving the guy human ribs a profitable business move? There’s no way people are dying at a rate that can keep up with demand.

Lang Tong (2014)
Also known as: 靚汤; literally: “Good Soup”
Mandarin

Director: Sam Loh
Writer: Sam Loh

CAST

William Lawandi – Zack
Angeline Yap – Li Er
Vivienne Tseng – Li Ling
Esther Goh – Stephanie
Alan Tan – Mike

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